Recordkeeper in chief staying put

U.S. Archivist John Carlin said he intends to stay in office to complete

the creation of an electronic archive that would make government records

available online "anytime, any place." That means he plans to be the nation's

chief recordkeeper for at least another five years.

Carlin, a former governor of Kansas, was nominated for archivist of the

United States in 1995 by President Clinton but said he does not plan to

depart when the president does in January. The National Archives and Records

Administration is about two years into the enormously complex electronic

archive project, which should be ready in 2004 or 2005, Carlin said Wednesday

during an interview with Federal Computer Week.

The project is intended to solve the problem of how the federal government

can handle its fast-multiplying inventory of electronic records. When the

Clinton administration leaves office, for example, it is expected to turn

over to the Archives up to 40 million electronic records created by e-mail

messages alone. There will be millions of other electronic records as well.

That compares to about 100,000 electronic records created between 1971 and


When the Electronic Records Archive is ready for use in about five years,

it is intended to store electronic documents in Extensible Markup Language

in such a way that data can be retrieved and read by the computers and software

that will be used in the future.

The electronic archive is expected to be updated as technology changes to

take advantage of improved methods of storage, retrieval and transmission,

said Carlin and Reynolds Cahoon, the assistant archivist.

Carlin, who was governor of Kansas from 1979 to 1987, was president of Midwest

Superconductivity Inc., a Kansas high-technology research and development

company when he was picked by Clinton to head NARA.

Considered a nonpolitical appointee, the archivist of the United States

serves for an indefinite period. However, Carlin's predecessor, Donald Wilson,

who was appointed by President Bush, resigned after Bush left office to

follow the former president to Texas to head the Bush library there.


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